Saint Paul and Amsterdam Islands are remote islands located on the same latitude as Melbourne in Australia. The islands are a part of French Southern and Antarctic Lands – an overseas territory of France. Geographically these islands are not a part of the Sub-antarctic region, but they are even further away from Australia, Asia or Africa, thus Wondermondo includes them with Sub-antarctic islands.

Most interesting landmarks of Saint Paul and Amsterdam Islands

The mild climate and remoteness of the islands have facilitated the development of a distinct ecosystem with endemic species of plants and animals. Unfortunately, this ecosystem has been depleted by the forest fires, by cattle and other introduced animals and plants.

The landscape of the islands is spectacular, with very tall cliffs. Both islands are summits of volcanoes.


  • Del Cano (Frandes Ravines) Falls – Amsterdam Island, south west. Two impressive, perennial waterfalls. One is falling down a nearly vertical cliff, another is falling vertically into a ravine.
  • D’Entrecasteaux Cliffs – Amsterdam Island, south-west. Up to 731 m tall cliffs, almost vertical. Populated by tens of thousands of birds.
  • D’Entrecasteaux Falls – Amsterdam Island, south-west. Perennial falls cascading down the D’Entrecasteaux cliffs. In strong wind (what is often here) the water is caught up and flies upwards.
  • Grand Bois – eastern part of Amsterdam Island. The only remnant of the dense forest of Phylica arborea – an subantarctic tree. This forest covers 8 ha, earlier, before the human inflicted forest fires it covered large part of the island.
  • Grande Coulée – Amsterdam Island. Very impressive lava tunnel with many collapses, rich with plant life. Unexpectedly exotic walking path in this far southern island.
  • Grotte du Bib – northern part of Amsterdam Island. A lava tunnel. Sinkholes, where the tunnel has collapsed, are covered with vegetation.
  • Plateau des Tourbières – central part of Amsterdam Island, a 500 – 600 m high plateau with peat bogs. The only breeding site for the critically endangered Amsterdam Albatros (Diomedea amsterdamensis). Wingspan of this bird reaches 3.4 m. Only some 130 birds exist. Plateau contains endemic species of Sphagnum moss.
  • Sources Thermales, Saint Paul – Saint Paul Island, bank of Bassin du Cratere. Sources with hot water which is heated by the volcanic heat.

Described landmarks of Saint Paul and Amsterdam Islands

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Featured: Grand Bois, Amsterdam Island

Phylica arborea, Amsterdam Island
Phylica arborea, Amsterdam Island / Bruno Navez, Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0

When the remote Amsterdam Island was discovered, the lowland parts of it were covered with a unique Sub-Antarctic forest – a thicket of Phylica arborea trees. The total area of this forest was 1 500 ha (some 27% of Amsterdam Island). Now only 8 ha of the original forest remain, protected from the cattle by a line of cypress trees.

Recommended books

Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Not Visited and Never Will

Gorgeously illustrated and with new, vibrant colors for the Pocket edition, the atlas shows all fifty islands on the same scale, in order of the oceans they are found. Schalansky lures us to fifty remote destinations—from Tristan da Cunha to Clipperton Atoll, from Christmas Island to Easter Island—and proves that the most adventurous journeys still take place in the mind, with one finger pointing at a map.

The Lost Island

A striking narrative of a man’s inadvertent discovery of the life force that persists in the most secluded of places-and isolated of beings.

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